• Joe Gilliver

What Does Data Tell Us About People's Willingness to Attend Virtual vs Live Events?

Virtual or live events? Due to numerous lockdowns and spikes in infections, how willing are people to leave their sofa and attend a live event? Let’s discover the truth from the statistics.

Over the pandemic period, the events industry has evolved in ways we thought would take years. But, due to lockdown restrictions - which were first introduced back in late March of 2020 - industry leaders had to take action to avoid losing income from all their cancelled live events. That’s where virtual events came in. And, without them, the industry wouldn’t have transitioned back to live events as quickly as it has done - mainly because of the potential loss of income.


Virtual and live events both have their own separate audiences. On the one hand, those who favour virtual events are still put off by Covid. Whereas, on the other hand, there is still a group of people who miss the traditional, live events.


But what does data tell us about all of this?


Virtual Events

The statistics for engagement tell us that virtual events are still working even with the return of live events to rival them. On average, attendees watch 68% of a 20-minute or longer session; 75% sign up for 1-5 virtual events per month, with half of them attending each one; and 64% of people agree that the quality of speakers encourages them to sign up in the first place. An overwhelming majority are willing to attend based on a number of factors, not just the fact that virtual events are a safer alternative. Virtual events are a viable option for organisers.


As a result, 80.2% of organisers are able to reach a wider audience with virtual events. And, as we know, more attendees equals more money and publicity. It may be all well and good being a popular event for locals, but creating one that transcends location is something else entirely within the grand scheme of things. Globalisation is becoming more apparent as we evolve as a society, so it is clear and obvious where we will end up down the line. From all this data and its trends, more people may be willing to attend virtually rather than in-person.


Live Events

According to the data, 95% of marketers believe live events are key to achieving business goals. But around 35% say the safety of attendees has been paramount to achieving this in 2021 versus 2020. So, considering 80% have missed attending live events, there is a real conscience battle that must go on in the minds of event organisers.


Should the events be live, virtual or hybrid? In order to hit the nail on the head, these decisions must be made; otherwise, lose out on the core audience who help drive the events either way.


Due to Omicron, though, live events are once again being shut down. Vault Festival 2022, for example, was cancelled over potential Omicron fears not too long ago. Both audience members, employees and organisers are less willing to attend live events and more willing to attend virtual events because of the variant. It feels as if live events will not be the same until Covid is securely under control. Virtual events offer that safety but less authenticity as a result.


The falling cases suggest it has peaked, which may lead to more willingness from attendees.


Conclusion

Data suggests that people are willing to attend both virtual and live events in large numbers. But Omicron has somewhat threatened the revival of live events in the UK. What was becoming such a promising time in our industry is now looking a bit different. And this may even be the case for years to come as we battle against the different variants of Covid that pop up within our country. Omicron may well be the catalyst that converts live event-goers into virtual event-goers instead.


If you compare the benefits of both, you should come up with a clearer picture of the situation.


Virtual event benefits:

● Safer

● No travelling

● Less expensive overall

● Ability to replay the event later on

● Attend from anywhere in the entire world.


Live event benefits:

● Ability to interact whenever you would like

● A more authentic experience overall

● Much better engagement

● Easier to network

● Recognition.


Nothing will beat the raw experience of a live event, in our eyes at least. But virtual events are a great option that will only increase in popularity over time. We think that, because of this, it is more than appropriate for you to implement both where possible. Hybrid really is the future.

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